Friday, November 23, 2007


Vår Frelsers Kirke
There is Messiah and there is music. There is the Bible and there are lyrics and librettos. I might also add there are conductors and there is Boris Brott, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

For two years in a row Boris Brott has visited four Norwegian towns, including small Haugesund. He has conducted a choir rooted in a Lutheran Bible School, together with four of the best soloists we,ve got. In the spirit of Handel the money acquired is donated to "Mission without border" .
I don't quite remember first time I heard the Messiah. The Hallelujah choir must have been in in my ears, in my head from childhood on. My father used to say he longed for the day he could join the Hallelujah choir in heaven.
He's there now. Hopefully conducted by Handel himself.

The story of how the Messiah was written, is a story of a well known composer, miraculously recovering from a brain blow about 260 years ago. In Karlsbad, Germany he met Jesus and fought his way back to life. Back in London he sunk into a deep depression, could not write, would not eat or drink.
A friend of his, Charles Jennens dropped by with a new libretto for an oratory. The words directly quoted from the Bible.
Handel, laying faced towards the wall, would not even turn around to have a look at it.

Eventually he took a peek, moving around restlessly.
The opening words :"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God" did the wonder of opening Handel's long shut mind.
In 23 days he composed what should be remaining The Masterpiece in the history of music.

Handel's trials was not yet over. In London he found himself out of fashion. Nobody wanted his newly written Messiah.
Then came words from Dublin. The not unknown Jonathan Swift, author and vicar of St. Patrick's Cathedral, needed an oratory to perform in a Dublin theater to collect money to Dublin orphanages. Handel was in. He dedicated his masterpiece to God, and the money earned to be given to homeless children.
The two choirs from Christ Church and St. Patrick united and after a not so overwhelming first night, the success was phenomenal. The audience was told to leave their sables and crinolines at home to make space for more people.
I've seen the original music sheets in the crypt of St. Patrick.
It gave me goose skin.
Back in England Handel's fame and wealth rose above former hight. King Georg 1 was his tone deaf mesén.
The first time the king heard the Hallelujah choir, he startled and stood up in firm salute.
That tradition reminds to this very day.
Yesterday, in Our Savior's Church in Haugesund, we the audience were allowed standing to sing along with the choir, conducted my Boris Brott.
If you're only to attend one Christmas concert this year,
go and be a part of the Messiah experience.

(Pictures stolen from Wikipedia. Story partly from Stephan Zweig "Sternstunden der Menschenheit". uTube must have some Messiah recordings)

Georg Friedrich Händel


A Sacred Oratorio

Words by Charles Jennens


1. Sinfonia (Overture)

2. Accompagnato

Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness; prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

(Isaiah 40: 1-3)

3. Air

Ev'ry valley shall be exalted, and ev'ry moutain and hill made low; the crooked straight and the rough places plain.
(Isaiah 40: 4)

4. Chorus

And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
(Isaiah 40: 5)

5. Accompagnato

Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts: Yet once a little while and I will shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land.
And I will shake all nations; and the desire of all nations shall come.

(Haggai 2: 6-7)
The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the Covenant, whom you delight in; behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.
(Malachi 3: 1)

6. Air

Alto or soprano
But who may abide the day of His coming, and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner's fire.
(Malachi 3: 2)

7. Chorus

And He shall purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.
(Malachi 3: 3)

8. Recitative

Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Emmanuel, God with us.
(Isaiah 7: 14; Matthew 1: 23)

9. Air and Chorus

O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain. O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, behold your g od!
(Isaiah 40: 9)
Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
(Isaiah 60: 1)
O thou that tellest. . . etc.

10. Accompagnato

For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee.
And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.

(Isaiah 60: 2-3)

11. Air

The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light;
and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

(Isaiah 9: 2)

12. Chorus

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9: 6)

13. Pifa ("Pastoral Symphony")

14a. Recitative

There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
(Luke 2: 8)

14b. Accompagnato

And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid.
(Luke 2: 9)

15. Recitative

And the angel said unto them: "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

(Luke 2: 10-11)

16. Accompagnato

And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying:
(Luke 2: 13)

17. Chorus

"Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will towards men."
(Luke 2: 14)

18. Air

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, thy King cometh unto thee; He is the righteous Saviour, and He shall speak peace unto the heathen.
Rejoice greatly. . . da capo

(Zecharaiah 9: 9-10)

19. Recitative

Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped.
Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing.

(Isaiah 35: 5-6)

20. Air (or Duet)

(Alto &) soprano
He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; and He shall gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
(Isaiah 40: 11)
Come unto Him, all ye that labour, come unto Him that are heavy laden, and He will give you rest.
Take his yoke upon you, and learn of Him, for He is meek and lowly of heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

(Matthew 11: 28-29)

21. Chorus

His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.
(Matthew 11: 30)


22. Chorus

Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.
(John 1: 29)

23. Air

He was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
(Isaiah 53: 3)

He gave His back to the smiters, and His cheeks to them that plucked off His hair: He hid not His face from shame and spitting.
He was despised. . . da capo (Isaiah 53: 6)

24. Chorus

Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows!
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him.

(Isaiah 53: 4-5)

25. Chorus

And with His stripes we are healed.
(Isaiah 53: 5)

26. Chorus

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way. And the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
(Isaiah 53: 6)

27. Accompagnato

All they that see Him laugh Him to scorn; they shoot out their lips, and shake their heads, saying:
(Psalm 22: 7)

28. Chorus

"He trusted in God that He would deliver Him; let Him deliver Him, if He delight in Him."
(Psalm 22: 8)

29. Accompagnato

Thy rebuke hath broken His heart: He is full of heaviness. He looked for some to have pity on Him, but there was no man, neither found He any to comfort him.
(Psalm 69: 20)

30. Arioso

Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow.
(Lamentations 1: 12)

31. Accompagnato

Soprano or tenor
He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgressions of Thy people was He stricken.
(Isaiah 53: 8)

32. Air

Soprano or tenor
But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell; nor didst Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption.
(Psalm 16: 10)

33. Chorus

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in.
Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in.
Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory.

(Psalm 24: 7-10)

34. Recitative

Unto which of the angels said He at any time: "Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee?"
(Hebrews 1: 5)

35. Chorus

Let all the angels of God worship Him.
(Hebrews 1: 6)

36. Air

Alto or soprano
Thou art gone up on high; Thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men; yea, even from Thine enemies, that the Lord God might dwell among them.
(Psalm 68: 18)

37. Chorus

The Lord gave the word; great was the company of the preachers.
(Psalm 68: 11)

38. Air (or « duet and Chorus »)

Soprano or alto (or soprano, alto and Chorus)
How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things.
(Isaiah 52: 7; Romans 10: 15)

39. Chorus (or air for tenor)

Their sound is gone out into all lands,
and their words unto the ends of the world.

(Romans 10: 18; Psalm 19: 4)

40. Air (or « Air and Recitative »)

Why do the nations so furiously rage together, and why do the people imagine a vain thing?
The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against His anointed.

(Psalm 2: 1-2)

41. Chorus

Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their yokes from us.
(Psalm 2: 3)

42. Recitative

He that dwelleth in Heav'n shall laugh them to scorn; The Lord shall have them in derision.
(Psalm 2: 4)

43. Air

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
(Psalm 2: 9)

44. Chorus

Hallelujah: for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
(Revelation 19: 6)
The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord,
and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.

(Revelation 11: 15)
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.
(Revelation 19: 16)


45. Air

I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand
at the latter day upon the earth.
And though worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.

(Job 19: 25-26)
For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep.
(I Corinthians 15: 20)

46. Chorus

Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

(I Corinthians 15: 21-22)

47. Accompagnato

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
(I Corinthians 15: 51-52)

48. Air

The trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality.
The trumpet. . . da capo

(I Corinthians 15: 52-53)

49. Recitative

Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."
(I Corinthians 15: 54)

50. Duet

Alto & tenor
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.

(I Corinthians 15: 55-56)

51. Chorus

But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(I Corinthians 15: 57)

52. Air

Soprano alto
If God be for us, who can be against us?
(Romans 8: 31)
Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is at the right hand of God, who makes intercession for us.
(Romans 8: 33-34)

53. Chorus

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom,
and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
Blessing and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.

(Revelation 5: 12-14)